TO THEE DO WE SIGH, MOURNING AND WEEPING IN THIS VALLEY OF TEARS.
As we have access to the Eternal Father, says St. Bernard, only through Jesus Christ, so have we access to Jesus Christ only through Mary: “By thee we have access to the Son, O blessed finder of grace, bearer of life, and Mother of Salvation, that we may receive Him by thee, Who through thee was given to us.” This is the reason given by the Saint why our Lord has determined that all men shall be saved by the intercession of Mary; and therefore he calls her the Mother of Grace and of our Salvation.
“Then,” asks St. Germanus, “what will become of us? What hope can we have of salvation, if thou dost abandon us, O Mary, who art the life of Christians?”
“But,” says a modern critic already quoted, “if all graces come through Mary, when we implore the intercession of the other Saints, they must have recourse to the mediation of Mary. But that,” he says, “no one believes or ever dreamed of.”
As to believing it, I reply that in that there can be no error or difficulty. What difficulty can there be in saying that God, in order to honour His Mother, and having made her Queen of Saints, and willing that all graces shall be dispensed by her hands, should also will that the Saints should address themselves to her to obtain favours for their clients?
And as to saying that no one ever dreamed of such a thing, I find that St. Bernard, St. Anselm, St. Bonaventure, Suarez, and others, expressly declare it to be the case. “In vain,” says St. Bernard, “would a person ask other Saints for a favour if Mary did not interpose to obtain it.” Another author, explaining the words of the Psalm: All the rich among the people shall entreat thy countenance (Ps. xliv. 13), says “that the Saints are the rich of that great people of God, who, when they wish to obtain a favour from God for their clients, recommend themselves to Mary, and she immediately obtains it.” And Father Suarez correctly remarks that “we beg the Saints to be our intercessors with Mary, because she is their Queen and sovereign Lady.” “Amongst the Saints,” he says, “we do not make use of one to intercede with the other, as all are of the same order; but we do ask them to intercede with Mary, because she is their Sovereign and Queen.” And this is precisely what St. Benedict promised to St. Frances of Rome, as we read in Father Marchese; for he appeared to her, and taking her under his protection, he promised that he would be her advocate with the Divine Mother.
In confirmation of this, St. Anselm addresses our Blessed Lady and says: “O Lady, whatever all the Saints, united with thee, can obtain, thou canst obtain alone.” “And why is this?” asks the Saint; “why is it that thou alone hast such great power? Ah, it is because thou alone art the Mother of our common Redeemer; thou art the Spouse of God; thou art the universal Queen of Heaven and earth. If thou dost not speak for us, no Saint will pray for or help us. But if thou beginnest to pray for us, then will all the Saints do the same and succour us.”
So that Father Segneri, in his Devout Client of Mary, applying with the Catholic Church the words of Ecclesiasticus to her: I alone have compassed the circuit of heaven (Ecclus. xxiv. 8), says that “as the first sphere by its motion sets all the others in motion, so it is when Mary prays for a soul; immediately the whole heavenly court begins to pray with her.” “Nay, more,” says St. Bonaventure, “whenever the most sacred Virgin goes to God to intercede for us, she, as Queen, commands all the Angels and Saints to accompany her, and unite their prayers to hers.”
And thus, finally, do we understand why the Holy Church requires that we should salute and invoke the Divine Mother under the glorious title of “our hope.” Spes nostra, salve! The impious Luther said that he “could not endure that the Roman Church should call Mary, who is only a creature, ‘our hope'”; “for,” said he, “God alone, and Jesus Christ as our Mediator, are our Hope: and God curses those who place their hope in a creature, according to the Prophet Jeremias Cursed be the man that trusteth in man” (Jer. xvii. 5). But the Church teaches us to invoke Mary on all occasions, and to call her “Our Hope” — Hail, our hope! Whoever places his confidence in a creature independently of God, certainly is cursed by God; for God is the only source and dispenser of every good, and the creature without God is nothing, and can give nothing. But if our Lord has so disposed it, as we have already proved that He has done, that all graces should pass through Mary as by a channel of mercy, we not only can but ought to assert that she, by whose means we receive the Divine graces, is truly our hope.
Therefore St. Bernard says that “she is his greatest confidence and the whole foundation of his hope.” St. John Damascene says the same thing, for he thus addresses the most Blessed Virgin: “O Lady, in thee have I placed all my hope; and with my eyes fixed on thee, from thee do I expect salvation.” St. Thomas says that “Mary is the whole hope of our salvation,” and St. Ephrem, addressing her, says: “O most holy Virgin, receive us under thy protection, if thou wilt see us saved, for we have no hope of salvation but through thy means.”
Let us, then, in the words of St. Bernard, “endeavour to venerate this Divine Mother with the whole affection of our hearts; for such is the will of God, Who is pleased that we should receive every good thing from her hand.” And therefore the Saint exhorts us, whenever we desire or ask for any grace, to recommend ourselves to Mary, and to be assured that we shall receive it by her means; for he says that if thou dost not deserve the favour from God, Mary, who will ask it for thee, will deserve to receive it. “Because thou wast unworthy of the gift, it was bestowed on Mary, that through her thou mightest receive all that thou hast.” The Saint then advises us to recommend all that we offer to God to the care of Mary, be they good works or prayers, if we wish our Lord to accept them. “Whatever thou mayest offer to God, be sure to recommend it to Mary, in order not to meet with a repulse.”